The Harmful Message Behind a Ban on Those Who Protect and Serve
In a series of tweets published in late July, President Trump announced that the U.S. military would no longer allow transgender men and women to serve in any capacity. The president cited medical costs and distractions to military focus as the reasons behind his surprise announcement, despite a previous study by the RAND National Defense Research Institute that counters these claims.
Military officials were quick to assure the public that no actions would be taken until official directives were provided from the White House. Still, reactions to the announcement were passionate. A Quinnipiac University poll taken during the days following the tweets found that about two-thirds of Americans said they believe that transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military. High-ranking military officials also doubled down on their support for transgender men and women in their ranks, who may number as high as 15,000 for people currently serving. And slightly more than two weeks after the tweets, five transgender active members of the military filed a lawsuit against the president’s directive.
The implications for a ban on transgender service in the military can be far-reaching not just for those in the military, but for the transgender community as a whole. To shed light on the potential effects of a ban on transgender service, we sat down with USC professors Jeremy Goldbach, an expert on LGBT mental health, and Carl Castro, Director of the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR), who recently published a co-authored report on life after the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy for LGBT service members.